The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Laura Schlessinger (born January 16, 1947) is a popular American radio talk-show host, hosting the Dr. Laura call-in show.

Schlessinger characterizes her show as a "moral health program" rather than as an "advice program". Her responses to callers usually display a trademark frankness that some people find harsh. Her advice has been widely sought and the show is the third highest-rated talk radio show in the United States.

She is a outspoken critic of sex outside of marriage, marrying quickly or at a young age, abortion, and aspects of the gay rights movement. Her radio program often features short editorial monologues on social and political topics.

She has also authored numerous self-help books, including the best-selling Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, and several religious books.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Criticism and controversies
3 Moral opinions
4 Publications
5 Foundation
6 External Links


Born in 1947 in Brooklyn, New York to Monroe (Monty) Schlessinger and Yolanda Ceccovini Schessinger, Laura Catherine Schlessinger grew up first in Brooklyn, then in Long Island, New York. She has described her childhood as unpleasant, due to extended family rejection of her mixed-marriage parents (Monty was Jewish but an unbeliever, while Yolanda was an Italian Catholic war-bride) and due to what she has described as an unloving environment. She was an only child for eleven years until the birth of her sister, Cindy. Schlessinger received a bachelor degree from SUNY Stonybrook and a Ph.D. in Physiology from Columbia University. A brief marriage in her early twenties ended in divorce, and she moved to Los Angeles where her parents had already settled.

She received her certification in Marriage, Family and Child Counselling from University of Southern California (USC) and taught at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California, Irvine, USC, and Pepperdine University. While working at USC, she met Dr. Lewis G. Bishop, who was married with dependent children, and they began an affair. Schlessinger's contract with USC was not renewed, and Bishop chose to leave his tenured job at the same time. They married eight years later, in early 1985, and he became her business manager. After the reversal of a tubal ligation, and later suffering a tubal pregnancy, Schlessinger bore their only child Deryk in November, 1985.

Schlessinger's first radio engagement was as a guest on the Bill Ballance show in 1974. She did her own shows on a series of small radio stations before landing her current show at KFI in Los Angeles. The Dr. Laura Show was nationally syndicated in 1994. She sold ownership of the show to Jacor Communications, Inc for $71 million, and at its peak, The Doctor Laura Show was heard on 471 radio stations. KFI remains her flagship station.

Schlessinger converted to Judaism in 1996, and she and her son Deryk joined the Conservative branch (it is unclear if her husband Lewis ever converted to Conservative Judaism). Then in 1998 the entire family converted to Orthodox Judaism under Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka of Ottawa. Schlessinger often discusses religion on the show, giving examples from Judaism. She also discussed matters with her local Orthodox Rabbi, Moshe D. Bryski. She was embraced by the politically conservative segment of Orthodox Judaism after bringing more awareness of Orthodoxy to her radio show. Schlessinger received a National Heritage award from the National Council of Young Israel in early 2001.

She has won awards from some media and many conservative organizations, including the National Religious Broadcasters' Chairman's Award. She also lectures on the national conservative circuit, and was the commencement speaker at Hillsdale College in June 2003.

In July 2003, Schlessinger announced on her show that she was no longer an Orthodox Jew. In a series of monologues over the next month, she explained that she did not feel a connection with God and felt frustrated by the effort she had put into following the religion. She also mentioned envying the relationship with God described by her Christian fans.

As of November 2003, her show is syndicated to 300 stations, down from a peak of 470.

Criticism and controversies

Name of show and qualifications

Schlessinger's Ph.D. is in physiology, not psychology, and her critics have characterized the show name as deceptive. In her defense, she mentions that her degree is in physiology and that she is a former licensed marriage therapist on her web site and during her show, but critics contend that she does not mention these facts on her show often enough. And while she claims that she does not do "therapy" on her show and often refers people to seek therapy outside the context of her show, she has received additional criticism because her California Marriage Family and Child Counseling (MFCC) license has been inactive for several years.

Nude pictures

In 1998, naked pictures of her were posted on the Internet by ex-lover Bill Ballance, who gave Schlessinger her start in the radio business in 1974. At first she denied that she was the woman in the photographs, but two weeks later she sued for copyright infringement. Schlessinger's suit was ultimately dropped after she failed to get an injunction to stop displaying the photos.

View of homosexuality

Schlessinger wrote,

"Most Christians oppose homosexuality because they believe Scripture defines it as sin. They are not motivated by hate; quite the contrary."

Schlessinger is frequently criticized in the gay community for her view of homosexuality as a "biological error" and for her opposition to adoption by gay parents. On December 8, 1998 she stated:

I'm sorry — hear it one more time, perfectly clearly: If you're gay or a lesbian, it's a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex. The fact that you are intelligent, creative and valuable is all true. The error is in your inability to relate sexually intimately, in a loving way to a member of the opposite sex — it is a biological error.

In 2000, Schlessinger signed a deal with Paramount to do a Dr. Laura television program. Thousands of critics, particularly led by gay activist groups such as the Stop Dr. Laura web site, threatened to boycott sponsors in advance of the show. In November 2001, most stations moved the show to a less desirable time slot or replaced it entirely after the show started with low ratings, which then declined. There was also little sponsor interest in the show during its first nine weeks. The show was cancelled in March 2001 due to poor ratings. [1]

On, May 10, 2000, The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruled that

''her consistent characterization (in episodes reviewed) of the sexual behavior of gays and lesbian as "abnormal", "aberrant", "deviant", "disordered", "dysfunctional", "an error" or the like constituted abusively discriminatory of those persons on the basis of their sexual orientation. As a result, Schlessinger's comments were determined to be in violation of the human rights provision of the CAB Code of Ethics.
'' The CBSC found similar fault with her generalized statements that paedophilia is more prevalent among members of the gay community. However, the CBSC also ruled that,
in a number of other areas complained of, notably the issues relating to the gay agenda, gay culture, fatherless homes and the issues surrounding the murder of Matthew Shepard, Schlessinger's comments could not reasonably be interpreted on these various episodes as being in violation of either Clause 2 or 6 of the CAB Code of Ethics. [1]

Over the next year, most Canadian stations carrying the show dropped it.

In October 2000, Schlessinger paid for a full-page ad in the Gay Hollywood issue of Variety, as a Yom Kippur apology for previous negative remarks.

Negative reactions to views

Schlessinger's opinions given to live callers sometimes result in criticism.

In May 2001, in one well-publicized example, Schlessinger advised a caller not to let a boy with Tourette's Syndrome attend a wedding, angering many with the syndrome or who cared for TS children. Schlessinger defended her advice and referred to a 20-year-old textbook which recommended medication. The National Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA) severely criticized her views and TSA members deluged her show's parent company, Premiere Radio Networks, with calls and faxes. Within a week Schlessinger read an on-air apology.

Perceived hypocrisy

In December 2002, Schlessinger's mother Yolanda was found dead in her condominium, apparantly dead for months. The lurid story stayed in the headlines for some time. Controversy arose because of Schlessinger's previous advice to callers telling them to "honor thy father and mother" was viewed by some as contrasting with her not knowing her own mother had died months ago. Some felt Schlessinger handled the situation poorly, making statements that disrespected her mother after her death.

Moral opinions

Some of her opinions include:


Schlessinger has published a number of books. Several follow the mold of her successful Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, with similarly named books giving advice for men, couples, and parents, others are more religious or moral in orientation. The later advice books emphasize religion more than the earlier works.

Advice Books

  • Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives, February 1994
  • Ten Stupid Things Men Do to Mess Up Their Lives, September 1997
    • portions repackaged as Damsals, Dragons, and Regular Guys, March 2000
  • Parenthood by Proxy: Don't Have Them if You Can't Raise Them, April 2000
    • repackaged as Stupid Things Parents Do to Mess Up Their Kids, January 2001
  • Ten Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships, January 2001
  • The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, January 2004

Religious Books
  • How Could You Do That?! The Abdication of Character, Courage, and Conscience, January 1996
  • The Ten Commandments: The Significance of God's Law in Our Everydays Lives with Rabbi Stuart Vogel, September 1999

Children's Books, with Martha Lewis Lambert, illustrated by Dan McFeely
  • But I Waaaaaaaant It!, April 2000
  • Why Do You Love Me?, April 1999
  • Growing Up is Hard, April 2001
  • Where's God?, April 2003

For several years, Schlessinger published a full-color 16 page monthly magazine, The Dr. Laura Perspective, but it has ceased publication.

She wrote a syndicated weekly column, carried in many newspapers as well as Jewish World Review, where archives are still available. She currently writes a monthly column for World Net Daily.


Schlessinger created 'The Dr. Laura Foundation' which helps abused and neglected children. Schlessinger asks her on-air audience to donate items for "My Stuff" bags which go to children in need (often children who must leave their home with no possessions). A review of the foundations 1099's (in shows Schlessinger's own donations to the foundation are her name and the proceeds from the necklaces she makes and then auctions.

External Links